Tide turning for Beach community

scotto

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Reprinted with full permission from the Hamilton Spectator

Jun. 12, 12:36 EDT

Home prices steadily rising in neighbourhood that once was ridiculed
Peter Van Harten
The Hamilton Spectator

Kaz Novak, the Hamilton Spectator
Residents in the Hamilton Beach community have fought off bulldozers and the city in past years and now, after a reversal of policy, the city has sold 22 lakeside lots, and new homes are being built.

In a garden on Hamilton's Beach Strip, there is a small sculpture of a foundry-cast aluminum hand that says it all.

The index finger of that hand is extended into the sky in a universal gesture of scorn. "We won," that hand seems to say to the City of Hamilton, if you imagine polite phrasing.

Councillor Chad Collins, who represents the area, says, "The Beach community has always had lots of character and 'The Finger' is some of that old character that is still there."

Collins and other city notables including Hamilton's Santa Claus, Jimmy Lomax, were there for pizza and beer on Victoria Day when The Finger was unveiled in the garden of one of the community's respected residents.

The Hamilton Beach community fought off the bulldozers in past years and plans by city council and the Hamilton Conservation Authority to wipe it out.

Homeowners couldn't get permits to renovate their homes and the community was supposed to die and become parkland like the other side of the ship canal in Burlington.

"They've had to deal with some pretty big issues," says Collins. "They fought tooth and nail."

Policies were reversed and two years ago Hamilton sold off 22 city-owned lakeside lots and raised more than $1 million, which was used to help pay for the 8.5-kilometre beachfront trail that runs from Burlington to Confederation Park.

In recent weeks, landscaping was completed at beach parks and 3,000 new beach grass plants were set in place.

The new lot owners were required to start building homes within two years and the last shovel has now gone into the ground. Grand new homes have been built and others are under construction. There is even a stone castle.

Longtime resident James Howlett said that fortunately many of the homes are different styles and fit in with the eclectic nature of the community.

"Some of the houses are substantial and fairly different," he said. "We already had a diversity of housing and we wanted that to stay and not have it look look like Hamilton Mountain where everything is the same."

Beach businesses such as Dynes Tavern are starting to spruce up their premises.

This summer, the city will start selling off dozens of lots on the harbour side of Beach Boulevard. It will be done in stages to not flood the market.

Homes used to be cheap on the beach but the prices of existing home are steadily climbing. A 90-year-old home backing onto the lake sold recently by Tyson Brandow of Sutton Group was listed and sold for $399,000.

"You couldn't have bought anything like that anywhere else in Hamilton," he said.

Next door, a four-bedroom, two-storey home on a 60-by- 232-foot lot backing onto the lake and the new beach trail is listed at $448,900.

The Beach community had a poor image years ago, but that is now changing, said Collins.

"People from Toronto, Burlington and Oakville are moving into a neighbourhood that 2o and 30 years ago was laughed at," he said.

The new Beach trail, the new Dieppe Memorial on the lakefront and plans for a new pool and community centre to replace Lakeland Pool, and efforts to restore the lighthouse at the canal have all given the Beach community new appeal.

"I can't say it's a renaissance because they have always had something special there, but this just adds to it," said Collins.

Money is committed to improving the harbour side at Windermere Basin with a passive park with possible trails or lookouts to provide a new gateway to the community.

"It just gets better and better," said Collins. "The Beach is one of the few areas in Hamilton where everybody knows each other, knows who is getting married and who is having a baby and they keep in touch through strong community groups."

The owner of The Finger is a longtime member of the Beach community who refuses to be identified.

She covered the aluminum sculpture with a garbage bag when she heard a Spectator reporter was out looking for it.

But it may soon become more well-known. She is talking about having it photographed and giving a Finger of the Month Award.

The Hamilton Port Authority and an odour-emitting asphalt plant are top contenders for the first award.
 

Jim420

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May 29, 2004
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#2
Asphalt plant?

It's real nice to see the BEACH being talked about. We all need to get on our MPs or MPPs to stop the asphalt plant from spewing that smell!
 

scotto

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Feb 15, 2004
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The Beach Strip
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Jim420 said:
It's real nice to see the BEACH being talked about. We all need to get on our MPs or MPPs to stop the asphalt plant from spewing that smell!
Yes Jim! We need everyone's help on this one and don't forget on election day who had a hand in allowing this plant to locate so close to our community. :mad:
Scotto
 

scotto

Administrator
Staff member
Feb 15, 2004
6,895
195
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The Beach Strip
#9
Most of the complaints from the asphalt smell have stopped since the big fire. But the main problem area seems to be closer to the school, though I have talked to residents all along the Beach who have been bothered by it at times. We wiil see when the plant goes into full operation. :eek:
 
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